There is one word for this book. Exquisite!
Origami Heart by Binny is one of those children’s book which has an adult message also. Kabuki is a little rabbit who lives
“in a burrow in the sky,
among the clouds
of a metropolis
lives a lovely NEAT
rabbit boy named
This is the opening passage as we are introduced to a little rabbit called Kabuki who likes everything just so (as many adults could also identify with). He is preparing for a visit from his very best friend Yoko and spends a lot of time getting everything prepared to his satisfaction. He is a very lonely rabbit but finds comfort in finding symmetry in flowers at the market, excellence in snow peas at the market – in fact, he tries to find perfection and excellence in everything that he does.
Kabuki then returns home and lines up all of his perfect new items in neat rows on the kitchen bench. He dices his carrots and radishes into exact heart shapes. He sets the table for two and tweaks his whiskers as he waits for Yoko. By this time the reader can identify with his sense of waiting, longing and loneliness. My heart almost broke when the knock at the door reveals a postman with, of course, a note from Yoko who now cannot come. A single tear splashes to the floor.
Now we see the origami heart become part of the fabric of the story. He unpins it from his chest and smooths it flat, and he cleverly folds it into a beautiful crisp paper plane. He throws it out of the window into the bustling city.
And then the magic happens. A dainty bunny is on her way home and she catches Kabuki’s heart. The last illustration shows her on his doorstep. This is such a simple yet profound story. Illustrated in vintage colours and style, yet it deals with loneliness, isolation and expectation in the human heart. Children are not exempt from these feelings, and it is possible to see the beginnings of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder with Kabuki’s preoccupation for order and neatness.
I loved this book, not just because I could identify with Kabuki and his sense of loss when Koko did not arrive on the promised visit, but because although it is a simple story, it is a useful tool in order to engage with small children as they deal with their feelings, obsessions and the disappointments of a grown up world. Even though sad, Kabuki can rearrange his feelings by turning his heart into an origami plane – and that is what brings joy back to him. The book escapes sentimentality, although it invoked strong feelings in me even as an adult. It is so skilfully written, and although short in length, it would be a wonderful addition to any child’s library.
Binny herself is an award-winning textile designer and artist. Yet she has so clearly written about feelings and setbacks and reveals that she also has an astute understanding of human nature. I loved this book and believe it would be a treasure on any child or adult’s bookshelf.
Origami Heart, by Binny, published by Hachette Australia is available from Dymocks.
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